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Sunday NHL Odds, Pick, Prediction: Buffalo Sabres vs. New York Rangers Betting Preview

Sunday NHL Odds, Pick, Prediction: Buffalo Sabres vs. New York Rangers Betting Preview article feature image

Claus Andersen/Getty Images. Pictured: Igor Shesterkin.

  • The New York Rangers welcome the Buffalo Sabres to the Big Apple for Sunday's NHL matchup.
  • The Rangers are heavy favorites at Madison Square Garden.
  • Nicholas Martin breaks down the confrontation below and makes his betting pick.

Sabres vs. Rangers Odds

Sabres Odds+185
Rangers Odds-225
Time6 p.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NHL Odds here.

A rebuilding Sabres squad travels to Madison Square Garden to take on a Rangers team that took a deserved 2-1 loss Thursday to a talented Maple Leafs team. The Sabres will look to fair better themselves after being thoroughly dominated on home ice Thursday by the Flames, ultimately falling 5-0, but have altogether fought admirably given the situation this season.

Where does the value lie in this one with the Rangers a massive -220 favorite?

Sabres Continue Through Rebuilding Year

A 3-6-1 stretch has the Sabres looking much closer to the form most expected, even if the effort has been there. The talent is simply just lesser than what most clubs (maybe all spare Arizona) have to offer for coach Don Granato, and although I do feel the group has mainly looked organized, playing a fairly structured team game, the results are still middling at best.

Jeff Skinner, Tage Thompson and Rasmus Asplund are not exactly a competitive top line in the East, although Thompson and Asplund have both been good stories in the early going for Sabres fans.

Behind them is an offensive lineup not likely to strike fear into most, as is the nature of a team admittedly skating through a rebuilding year, and a  2.42 goals per game average over their last seven contests actually goes above expectations.

Victor Olofsson will remain out upfront, as well as goaltender Craig Anderson, defensemen Colin Miller, forward Alex Tuch and Lukas Rousek.

Defensemen Henri Jokijarju has been upgraded to day-to-day, and his status for the contest is unclear. His imminent return should be a big positive for the Sabres, as he was skating top pair minutes at the time of the injury.

Dustin Tokarski will take the net for the contest, and has been solid so far with a .909 save percentage, and -0.3 goals saved above expected (GSAx). Tokarski’s numbers took a gashing in Thursday’s big loss to the Flames, but to say any goalie would have fared much better is unlikely upon review of Calgary’s goals.

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Will Rangers Give Shesterkin the Start?

The Rangers did well to hang around and make it a game Thursday in Toronto, as they have managed to do consistently this season, specifically with Igor Shesterkin in the net.

It was the first offensive lull seen from Gerard Gallant’s Rangers group, as the team has managed to find some offensive support behind the big names of late and in turn posted some better offensive numbers.

Including Kappo Kakko, who has broken through while skating alongside the utterly tremendous Artemi Panarin, posting four points in his last three games.

Continued support for the Rangers from names excluding Adam Fox, Artemi Panarin, Chris Kreider and Mika Zibanejad will be key as they look to prove themselves deserving of a categorization amongst the Eastern elite.

That said, I still do not feel they are entirely there yet, and I expect more results closer to the 2-1 loss in Toronto going forward. The team’s 2.64 goals for per game ranks just 24th, but I also do not expect to continue to see the gaudy offensive totals seen over this recent surge going forward.

The Rangers will have a good chance to prove me wrong against a weaker Buffalo squad tomorrow, however, albeit one who has defended surprisingly well this season.

It is unclear who Gallant, a coach who always keep his starting goaltending decision close to the vest, will go with tomorrow.

It would seem to possibly be a logical spot to rest Shesterkin in favor of backup Alexandr Georgiev against weaker competition, although with Shesterkin having rested since Thursday, and with the Rangers off until Wednesday, I would not be surprised for the Rangers to just ride their elite young Russian here.

Shesterkin has stopped 93.0% of shots faced this season, with an 11.3 GSAx rating over a fantastic start.

Rangers vs. Sabres Pick

The Rangers have ridden some spectacular goaltending and a few of the league’s most elite pieces to a sixth-overall placement in the standings, but ultimately, I still feel the lack of depth in some areas of this lineup has me feeling they are punching a little above their weight. With New York’s current roster, it hasn’t quite dominated enough to make me see value taking them at -225 moneyline here on what seems to be about a fair line.

So I will be looking towards the total for what I see as the best line of the contest. A possible Georgiev start hurts the value to an extent, but I still see value on the under here sitting at a high mark of six on DraftKings. I’m going to take that now, as I think this one should have been set at 5.5, and I can’t see waiting gaining us value even if Georgiev gets the cage over Shesterkin, but the price will likely worsen given a confirmation of Shesterkin in net.

Buffalo simply doesn’t hold a lot of offensive talent right now, and it likely will be wise to continue to play lower-event, slower-paced hockey when possible, and look to keep games close in turn.

Altogether Don Granato’s group has played one of the league’s least eventful brands of hockey in the early going, with an xGF/60 of just 2.05, and with a xGA/60 of 2.25 over 5-on-5 play.

Buffalo has actually outscored its expected goals totals as well this season, by 2.66, and I think we can assume that a group offering little with regards to elite playmaking or scoring talent will likely regress in that regard.

The Rangers also hold lower marks altogether, with an xGF/60 of just 2.16, and an xGA/60 of 2.63.

I think there’s a good chance we see a lower-scoring contest as Buffalo works to hang around in this one, and I will be locking that under in now.

Pick:  Under 6 (-120) | Play to -140

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